Brutti Ma Buoni “Ugly But Good” Cookies are classic Italian cookies similar to macaroons and mostly made of hazelnuts, almonds, egg whites, and icing sugar. Not the prettiest in look, but utterly delicious to eat.
I’ve done these Brutti ma Buoni Cookies twice in a couple of weeks. That is how much we like them! And every time, they last until the second day, and then I hear requests of baking some more.
I love baking cookies and fill a jar that I keep on the island so that my family knows that the baker was in action that day. It is a metal container with a metal lid, and the noise it makes while being opened and closed is unmistakable. It is music to my ear, meaning that the cookies are really appreciated. I do not remember buying store bought cookies in a very long time, we like our sweets in our family, so at least I try to keep it homemade and “healthier” as much as I can.
Lately, I’ve made desserts that required a good amount of egg yolks, leaving me with the dilemma of what to do with the leftover egg whites. I’ve made meringues, and I’ve made, twice, these simple, yet outstanding, Brutti ma Buoni “Ugly but Good” Cookies. They are classic Italian cookies, that of course, differ in look and ingredients according to the Region where they are produced. They can be made with only almonds or only hazelnuts, sometimes with a combination of both, other times with a combination of both plus the addition of walnuts. The nuts can be roughly chopped, or finely ground. Some add cocoa, some add chocolate, some purists add nothing, just the nuts. This recipe is a mix of my mother’s recipe, and Dorie Greenspan’s recipe, that featured my favorite ingredient: chocolate. Chocolate is my weakness, what can I say? I like including it in my sweets, even in the ones I eat for breakfast. Because if there is something I absolutely love at breakfast, is having something chocolaty: a pain au chocolat, a chocolate croissant, a scone with orange and chocolate chunks, a chocolate muffin, or a simple slice of toast with a smooth and creamy chocolate hazelnut spread.
So, in my version of Brutti ma Buoni cookies, to the coarsely ground hazelnuts, slivered almonds, cinnamon, vanilla, egg whites and icing sugar, I added a dusting of cocoa powder and a generous amount of Callebaut’s bittersweet chocolate chunks. The result is incredibly soft and chewy cookies, with a lovely dark chocolate taste, and a pronounced nutty flavor.
They are so easy and fast to make, you will find yourself coming back to this recipe as often as I do. You can grind the nuts finely and see if you are among the ones that like the Brutti Ma Buoni with a texture more similar to a nutty meringue. I like a bit of crunchy texture in mine, with the coarsely ground hazelnuts, the slivered almonds, and the chocolate chunks. They are soft and chewy, and so delectable. They’re also naturally gluten-free, and so light that having just one is not an option. They are perfect with tea or coffee, so they go well as an afternoon snack, at the end of a meal, or, like we do, at breakfast.
These Brutti Ma Buoni Cookies always remind me of home, as they are made by my mother, aunts, cousins, each with their own variation, and shared on different occasions. There is always a tray of them at our Easter breakfast table, in Italy, among other sweets and savory delicacies: cheese bread, salami, boiled eggs, colomba (dove shaped sweet bread), cookies, cakes and of course, the chocolate eggs. A feast that will continue at Easter lunch, and not for the faint of heart, lol.
You bite into these and the texture of a meringue is there, melting in your mouth, marrying nicely to the texture of the bittersweet organic chocolate and the crunch from the nuts. The flavors of the meringue and its sugary caramelization, pairing nicely to the deep rich slight acidic nature of the dark chocolate subduing the sweetness of the sugar and delivering the nutty flavor of the slivered almonds and hazelnuts. These are wonderful and that cookie jar lid resounds a fair bit in our house, especially when a cookie monster is awakened in the wee hours of the morning due to the cats, and is in need of a quick sugar fix.
If meringues are your thing then these are a rustic step up and deliver such a joyous, mouth watering experience, that I know will be enjoyed immensely. So if you have a few cookie monsters of your own, try these Brutti ma Buoni “Ugly but Good” Cookies. They’re actually not that ugly at all.
Song of the day: Daya – Sit Still, Look Pretty.
- 120 g (1 cup) icing (confectioners') sugar
- 1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
- 2 large egg whites
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 66 g (2/3 cups) hazelnuts, coarsely ground
- 120 g (1 cup) slivered almonds, coarsely chopped
- 57 g (2 ounces) semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
- Preheat the oven to 350° F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat.
- Pass the icing sugar, cocoa, cinnamon and salt through a strainer and onto a bowl.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, or using a hand held mixer, beat the egg whites until frothy.
- Add the vanilla, the strained ingredients, the ground hazelnuts and the chopped almonds. Mix with a spatula, until evenly moistened.
- Stir in the chopped chocolate.
- Using a tablespoon, scoop the dough onto the lined baking sheets, leaving some room between them.
- Bake for 20-22 minutes, rotating the sheet at half time.
- Transfer the baking sheet to a rack and allow the cookies to cool completely before peeling the paper or silicon mat away from the bottom.
Store them in a covered container at room temperature for 2-3 days (if they last that long). They tend to harden a bit after 3-4 days.
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